As a 15-year-old at Barcelona, Ilaix Moriba seized the world’s attention when he scored a hat-trick against Real Madrid’s U-18 team. One of the goals was a stunner from the halfway line, straight from the second-half kick-off.
Valencia’s sometimes plodding midfield could do with such ingenuity this season. Moriba arrives on loan from RB Leipzig and could make a real difference, along with fellow addition Eray Comert. The 1.85m central midfielder, with his blend of creativity and physicality, has been likened to Paul Pogba in some quarters.
The Guinean international, 19, emerged as the best young player of the group stage at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, at which his team made the final 16. He is no stranger to the big stage, playing for Barca in 18 matches in his breakout 2020/21 season, registering 3 assists and scoring once while helping them win the Copa Del Rey.
The vast potential of the 5th youngest goalscorer in the club’s history saw him become the highest-paid La Masia player with a 100 million euro release clause.
However, breakdowns in contract talks saw the region’s biggest clubs circling before RB Leipzig made the swoop with a winning 16 million euro bid.
Yet he has not made the scintillating start at the Red Bull Arena as expected, only clocking 100 minutes for the Bundesliga club this season.
In a teaser video on his Instagram account ahead of his Valencia move, Moriba was travelling in a car. The teenager is at the crossroads of his fledgling career, and hopefully he will drive Los Che on the road to better things this season.